Cargo Ferry Prototype

October #1
No Rassy this week, so not a lot achieved.
Attached are some pics outside the workshop showing all the pieces, some wing pics and the (broad) to do list before it is packed up for Suva.  Maybe November for the boat and December for me to travel.   
The ww hull is upside down so I could fair the bottom and chines, some of which had some bridging in the infusion.  My aversion to torture boarding is less than my need to have a smooth, fair hull below the water.


The wing pics are Friday arvo wip’s,  rushed so I could get home before I fell asleep (torture boarding induced exhaustion 😉 ).  The material is not tensioned height wise, the camber inducer will be less ornate (and automatic), the cloth will be sewn, not glued and it won’t wrap around the leading edge. The wing structure is low cost carbon rods (~$AUS4/m, $1,600 per 50 sqm/540 sq’ rig) which we can easily make bigger or smaller and mass produce anywhere.    The latest wet out machine makes them easy. Each section weighs 4.5 kgs/10 lbs, 45 kgs total per rig: I think this is significantly lower than the equivalent sail, battens, track, cars, boom, traveller and fittings for a 50 sqm mainsail? There is plenty of development still required but it looks, to my ever optimistic eye, to be on the right track. Next step is to put it on a mast section and see what we can learn, then start on all the little, tricky jobs. Like raising/lowering it and the telescopic mast, sheeting it and getting it to stack neatly.

September #3
We put the deck, toybox and tender in place this week.  Solved several problems, discovered a couple of minor new ones.  

Rassy got the rudders mounted and successfully tested as much as we could given the constraints of the blades not being in place and the hull sitting on the gravel.   The breakthrough was the trip working on a low loaded line rather than a highly loaded one, which makes it far more usable.  The test procedure involves ramming it as hard as I can with a 3m/10′ piece of 200 x 50mm/8″ x 2″ hardwood.   The first test, the lines were too tight and did not release so the full load was taken by the hull and case structure.  No damage.  

Hull lifting #2 was a limited success.  We lifted the bow of the ww hull about 150mm/6″ which showed as 4 kgs/9 lbs of pull on the winch handle, meaning 480 kgs/half a ton on the top of the mast. I could lift the other end of the ww hull (maybe 30 kgs/66 lbs) when the pulling rope (1,100 kgs breaking strain, reduced by ~50% due to the knot) broke.  

There was no cracking or creaking, the loaded beam barely deflected length wise and the sides did not buckle, the lee hull barely twisted, nothing buckled or bent on the ww hull, the loaded mast bent maybe 100mms at the top.  There was no damage from the hull dropping onto a piece of 100 x 50 timber.     Successful enough to go sailing, given that the loads applied should never be seen in reality, although the toybox, tender, crew and fitout were not included so it was not a particularly complete test.   Might try it again when everything is installed and I have some stronger string.
We redesigned and built a new wet out machine to allow single person operation, more control over resin content and easier cleaning.  Result is we are using tow for a lot more applications.

After several false starts, I have built the components for the first wing section built (2 x moulded carbon ribs, fibreglass leading edge, temporary mnast and the covering which is peel ply with glued batten pockets.  This looks pretty good, but took longer than sewing.    We will put it together this week and see where it leads.
Why a wing?
1) Cheaper and longer lasting than a sail, particularly the high tech sail the boat requires to perform to it’s potential.
2) Able to be built with the same knowledge and tools as the rest of the boat, which is important for remote building.
3) Easier to set up and reef.  A halyard pulls it up, the 1:1 mainsheet  induces the camber and controls the angle of incidence. Gravity lowers it and it is self stowing.  There is no need for a traveller, cunningham, outhaul, reefing lines, lazy jacks or multipart mainsheet and winch.
4) Theoretically more efficient.  Probably not against a high tech sail trimmed by an expert, but certainly better on a set and forget basis.
5) No need for the crew to access the lee hull in normal sailing, which is probably wishful thinking, but a good target to aim at. 
6) Potential for self trimming with an added tail.  This is not on the agenda, except to see what is possible down the track. 

Wing problems to solve:
Dimpling on the leading edge.  We are using solid glass for this, which works if the wing telescopes.  
Reefing.  In theory, the wing can be left up and will auto align with the wind.  This is too scary to contemplate leaving it up overnight, much scarier in a gale when the waves are  throwing the boat and sail around.  The solution is to make it telescope into 1.5m/5′ high sections.  
Assymetry.  Symmetric wings work, but lack grunt.  Two symmetric wings acting independently (America’s Cup etc) is too complex.  Our solution is to warp a symmetric wing.  This is not hard to do, but making it also telescope, light and reliable is.  Doing this with a non rotating mast (rotating masts are more expensive and harder to build) is a challenge we have yet to fully meet, but there are plenty of ideas still to choose from.  We shall see.  
Weight.  Not such a problem if it telescopes, but definitely something to consider.  
Complexity: The inside of most wing rigs resembles a spaghetti factory, with most lines needing continual adjusting.  We are trying to avoid this.

September #2
You can’t beat putting the big bits together to look like progress! It’s
certainly a rewarding feeling seeing  the deck and toy box attachments coming along, but what is more satisfying is when design aspects that were left “for later” become finalized. The toy box and bridge deck attachments were in the “for later” list and are now becoming a reality. The rudder release attachment is also making progress as each new prototype redesign brings the concept closer to realization. Today we’re having a day off as some of the test equipment in the shed is being utilized, but Tuesday will be a big toy box tow layup day.
Rob Rassy   

September #1
Load testing. Video here.

August 2021 #2
The push is on to get the hull beam connections to a stage where we can test the strength by lifting the WW hull with ropes attached to the mast tops. Carbon tow is being added to high load points, parts already built are being cut off or discarded, and design changes are coming fast and furious. Both beam end attachments have changed, the masts have changed significantly, rudder mounts and wing sails are still prototypes and constantly evolving. While the construction continues Rob has been making progress with marketing and sponsorship which will also change our launch plans. Although it all seems a bit chaotic the end result seems to be a shortening of the time left to go on this stage of the build. I’m avoiding details in this update because things are changing so fast, and I’m not sure what Rob is ready or able to comment on. I’m sure he will answer any questions in due course, keeping in mind he is pretty busy right now 🙂 Rob Rassy   

August 2021 #1
Now that the main components (except the wings for the masts) are built, it is loose end time.  Lots of little jobs finishing everything off.  Best described by 95% finished, 95% to go.   
I decided to simplify things and save some money (the carbon pultrusions have almost doubled in price since we bought the first ones) and start off with a 2 section telescoping mast rather than 3.  Means beefing up the top section we have built so it will function as a second section, which I did most of this week.  
There is a pretty good chance that we will be getting Wisamo inflatable sails.  A few more hoops to jump through, and the usual financial issues, but looking good.  Should know in September.  Meanwhile, we will keep playing with the wing rig because it is interesting.  We are also looking at making it tail controlled.  This may also work on the inflatable sail.

Other loose ends tied up:
We bonded in the lower mast supports, an unpleasant job grinding in an enclosed space, then glassed in the ring frame and wrapped the deck bearing in carbon tow.  These could have been (and will be next time) included in the infusion.  Fortunately they weren’t as the mast design changed significantly between then and now.   The reinforcing is preparation for a hull lifting test to check the mast and beam strength, the hulls’ torsional stiffness and the connections.  We tried a reverse lift (caught aback) and decided to change from lashing to 40mm dia carbon pins, which also hold the beam struts in place.    
Built a mould and section of the rubbing strake for the tender, still looking for a suitable material to make it into a fender.
Laid up the chocks for the mast/beam interface which was one of the ‘worry about it later’ jobs.  It looks like they will work.  
Rob R has been playing with wing prototypes and the best way to build them, I have been working on the telescoping and weighing up wing mast/sail, 2 piece and 10 piece solid wings with and without a tail and a flat sail lashed to the mast with Chinese style sheeting.  A lot of variables, hopefully the decision will be made by Michelin/Wisamo.   
Rob R also made a test assembly for my ultra simple rudder kick up system I have been ‘perfecting’ for the last few months.  Took one look at it and simplified it!  A lot.  I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry.  Looking forward to testing it next week.  
The new hinges for the toybox work well.  
We made a glass and bog hatch garage which is pretty basic, but should be thief proof and watertight.  When I get time to use the UQ sewing machine, I will build a pram hood over the hatch so watertight won’t be a problem. 
The ww hull is now closed up, ‘just’ got to make it pretty enough to paint.  Apart from sanding, bogging and patching a few holes this involves moving it away from the shed wall.  Fortunately, it is still light enough to do this by sliding one end then the other.  We then need to tip it over to fair and epoxy/copper the bottom, which will be an interesting test of the structure, particularly the deck which is unsupported until we know where the frames for the solar panels go.
Unstepped the masts and removed the beams solo, which was a little nerve wracking.  Once the masts were out, the beams were resting on the lee hull and the ww hull was heeled 20 degrees.  I had to get it level to remove the beams.  Lifted one beam about 6″/150mm (some of which was spacer compression which will be eliminated when the tapers are added to the beams) and the other one started to lift, which was surprising and gratifying as I was unsure of the torsional stiffness of the windward hull.  Looks like it will do the job.  However, this is a complicated way to remove the beams, so we chopped off the top of the case, making fitting and removing much easier.    They may be lashed in or the tow replaced, depending on how often the boats will be disassembled.  

Lashing will please the Marshallese, who replaced my tapered beams in sockets with traditional lashings (almost, they used nylon fishing twine) after the beams slipped out in an early test.  The plan was for the trampoline, mainsheet and stay pressure to hold them in place.  Would have worked except we sailed without the tramp, broke the leeboard lashing and got a tow in, but the tow boat put us wrong side to the wind and the rig fell down.  No mainsheet or stay and out the beams popped.  Quick thinking by one of the crew meant nothing broke, but it was a lost cause.   They are now building another one, which is great news.  

I’ve been asked to speak at a conference for traditional and modern boat builders, with emphasis on zero emissions and locally built, situation suitable vessels.  Some interesting people have been invited, it should be an informative couple of days.  

A group of switched on  Fijian business people and academics (SSTI, see attached) have offered to do all the ground work for a trial route from Suva to the islands to the east and south.  This is a huge load off me and should ensure there are no cultural, legal or procedural missteps.   The routes consist of short hops, max of about 100 kms/70 miles.    These routes will show us what works and what doesn’t and should reduce what was intended to be 3 years of demonstrating into 6 months.  All going well, the next step is to set up a boat building facility in Fiji and start producing them, followed by a shipping company to start using them.   SSTI are actively seeking funds for both ventures.  It is astonishing how many grants are available and how many boxes the cargo proa ticks on those grants.  They are also getting interest from other parts of the Pacific, in particular the Solomon Islands.  

SSTI reckon launching in Fiji is a better idea than launching here from a PR point of view.  They have an assembly and launch site arranged on the shore of Laucala Bay (east of Suva) which they want to make into the Pacific green shipping hub, including sail training and boat building,  are talking to the Minister about import duty and to shipping and trucking companies about reduced rates.  The components will fit in 2 containers, cost about $9,000 from door to door.  This is less than the cost to get the bits trucked from the build site to a boat ramp,  rent while we assemble it, some more to launch it and a lot to get the safety gear required for the trip to Fiji.   Plus a considerable payment and copious paperwork to the Aus authorities for registration.

SSTI  are supplying a couple of Navy6 electric outboards, at least 5 sq m of solar panels and 4 x Blue Lithium batteries.    One motor will go on the tender, not sure about the other, yet.  They will be enough for motoring in no wind and for maneuvering in tight spots.  A big step up from the cheap second hand outboard I was intending to use.  

Dec 1 in Fiji is looking possible, maybe launch by the end of the year, but probably not. Trial routes begin in April.

Fit out decisions are coming up which makes me realise how out of touch I am with developments.  The minimum the boat will need is a chart plotter/gps, AIS, tracker, VHF and nav lights.  These will either be second hand/cheap if I have to buy them, or top of the range in terms of durability if someone else does.  Any suggestions welcome.

July 2021#2
Messy couple of weeks, but the bottom sections of the masts are now in and the beams on. The photos do not show the support struts under the beams or the fore and aft struts. The second mast was raised with a sheer legs which is strapped around the hull so it can be used to step/unstep the masts while floating, although as the masts also support the beams, there will need to be a temporary stabiliser strapped to the hull as well.

July 2021#1
Not much to show for the last couple of weeks which was spent finishing the bottom mast sections and lifting one of them into place. The bottom sections weigh 78 kgs each, which is not bad, assuming they are strong enough. The lift was pretty simple including raising the gin pole which is the middle section of the telescoping mast. It will be replaced with a much lighter deck mounted A frame for future use. We also built the athwartships struts for the beams and some fittings for the rudder mounts, which raised more conundrums, followed by brainstorming and solutions, a couple of which are quite elegant. Next jobs are to raise both masts, fit the beams and struts, then install the sockets, bulkheads and some local stiffening in the windward hull and close up the foredeck. It’s uni holidays, so we have a couple of volunteers to start work on the wing coverings for the mast, the winch table for the toybox and some cfd analysis of the boat. We also had Chris who swapped 3 days of labour for the chance to discuss some innovative ideas he has for boats and the best way to build them. Lots of fun.